Have your hate

I suspect the Twat-O-Tron has been at work on the BBC’s Have Your Say (HYS) pages once more. One of todays “discussion” topics is Should immigration be cut because of the downturn? As you can imagine, this sort of thing really does bring the spiteful, uneducated, masses out of the dark, hate-filled world they normally hide in.

As always, a second-rate politician has found a topic they can grand-stand on, which appeals to the base instincts of the public:

The economic downturn will mean fewer people from outside the European Union are allowed to live and work in Britain, the UK Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has suggested.
Mr Woolas told the Times newspaper that in times of economic difficulty, racial stereotyping gets stronger so jobs should go primarily to those who live here.
He said when people were losing their jobs, immigration had become an extremely thorny issue.
Mr Woolas said the government would not allow the population to go up to 70 million.

I doubt more than a handful of people outside his constituency had heard of Mr Woolas before this, but he has achieved his goal. His “inspiring” comments have drawn quite a bit of attention to him.

Predictably, at the time of writing anyway, the weight of comments on HYS is in support of this madness. It seems that people have an arbitrary idea of what means someone is “British” enough to be here. On its own, this is bizarre enough but it seems there is a new version of logic available to these people. Each of these seem to fall into a theme.

The first is made up from people who are slightly misled:

UK Government must respond to the changing economic situation by making drastic cuts in the non EU workers coming to work and live in UK.With recession knocking on our doors resulting in job losses and increase in unemployment it will be folley to allow the immigration at the present level. Immigration must be restricted to needed skilled workers only. [By the miracle of irony, this comment was from "Mohan Lal Ramchandani, Westhoughton, United Kingdom"]

Non-EU migrant workers are, despite scare-mongering stories, few and far between in the UK. There are already regulations in place to restrict this migration to skilled workers, which is why the non-EU migrants tend to be in highly specialised professions (Doctors for example). Now, as with all things, the jobs are open to everyone – if British doctors are either unable to take the job, or unwilling to work at the market rate, then why on Odin’s Earth shouldn’t non-EU immigrants do the work?

Worryingly for non-xenophobic lunatics, the jobs lost in the recession are always certainly going to hit “British” workers before they hit migrants; the migrants are already paid peanuts. This will provide an arsenal of madness for the xenophobes and it is worrying that the Immigration Minister didn’t think before he spoke. Well done HM Government.

The next category is the weird, irrelevant, analogy:

At last. Well done for your comments hear. This country could easily be swamped by immigration. The world population is spiralling out of control.
In the Ciaro area for example, there are more than 1.5 million every year, and there is no way enough jobs can be created, despite Egypt’s economic growth.
Rubbish just piles up in the streets, alongside dead animals and roaming packs of unempoyed young men. A worrying vision for a future UK city? [Phil, Enfield]

Typo’s aside, this madness. I have been Cairo and it looked very different to that. However, even if “Phil” was 100% accurate it carries a huge so what. London is not Cairo. The differences are immense, even if UK councils have gone down the road of less and less frequent rubbish collection…

The inevitable empty rant also has its place:

I just cant express my anger at the way in which New Labour have allowed immigration to run riot over the last 11 years in only 500 words.
To announce a cap on immigration now, after the NHS and almost every other public body in the country have been saying for years that they cant cope with the current influx beggars belief, and I just dont believe that they will have the strength to stand up to the namby pamby lefties who put the needs of foreigners before those of brits.
Shut the door today [Downingstreet Mole, Leominster, United Kingdom]

Basically, this is someone who is just plain angry. They don’t really have anything to say and there is no coherent argument. They just wanted to rant about leftwingers. Well done them. Oddly, and sadly for the tabloids, most immigrant workers don’t put pressure on the NHS. People who are earning less than minimum wage aren’t really in a position to take a few days off sick. People who are here, living 30 to a house, dont make a huge dent in the NHS dentistry budget. Yes, a small percentage do use the health service but most don’t. They cant afford to.

Conspiracy theorists have to get their oar in:

please remember we live on an island, and not a very big island at that.
tony blairs government idea of a multicultral country is and was flawed from the outset forgetting history and the fact this little island is not big enough for too many people to live on safely.
the only reason the government invited so many in was to gain supportand ultimately engineer staying in power longer, ignoring indiginous minorities infavour of incoming peoples.
it has to stop now.[delminister, truro, United Kingdom]

Well, this is odd. There are quite a few which have made this claim (or a variation thereof). It strikes me as odd, because Labour’s managed to get in power while a Conservative government held the seat. So, did Labour have a secret load of migrants to vote for them or is this just nonsense? Equally weird, migrants dont get to vote… Truly, the world of HYS is bizarre.

Staying with the madness we get this:

Everyone I speak to from the UK complains about immigration.
The Government ignores what the population of the UK wants. A stop to it.
For this reason alone, regardless of any supposed economic benefits, it should be stopped.[Will de Beest, Spain]

(Spain! Ha). Basically this implies that the government shouldn’t mind about the benefits or costs of a policy, but should just do what ever the subset of the population this nutcase talks to want. Wow. Wouldn’t that lead to a Utopia.

“What are you going to say to the employer who is desperate to fill a job, but can’t find anyone suitable in the European economic area?”
Keith Best, chief executive, Immigration Advisory Service
Is this for real? – is this guy seriously suggesting that there are jobs out there that can not be filled by anyone from within the EU, let alone this country?
If that is the case then maybe the employer should take his business elsewhere.[Graham Duncan, United Kingdom]

Erm, yes. That is what Keith Best is saying, If the employer can’t find some one from the EU he takes his business elsewhere and employs from outside the EU. It is a shame that (on HYS) British-loving seems to mean the same as idiot. This is a milder version where a poor sense of history has conspired to create the idiocy:

We were once a proud nation at peace with itself and common sense lived here it was so good everyone else wanted to live here.
Our grandfathers had worked hard and sacrificed much to make this county Great but immigration reversed all that. Broke, and under shortsighted leadership we have given away more than we could afford.
Should immigration be cut YES, in all honesty it should have been stopped years ago. [Tom J-P[, Byfleet]

There isn’t really all that much I can say to that, other than no.

The comments continue to be a mix of racist, mad or just daft, although having just refreshed them I see there is some balance there now. The oddest part is that people are in favour of immigration laws (which will only affect non-EU migrants) because they want to reduce the number of EU migrants. It really is that stupid.

Worryingly (for the UK) it does show how stupid our electorate is, and how easily they can be misdirected by a slightly cunning politician. I really do think that democracy doesn’t work – most people are too thick.

Ironically, if we did institute a system where people who could barely read or write English were deported, we’d be stuck as most of them (using HYS as my non-scientific, non-representative sample) would have been born here…

No smugness here

Jonathon Freedland wrote about the hate email he’s been getting from Americans who tell him, in picturesque terms, that non-Yanks shouldn’t have opinions on the US election.

The counterblasts featured all the usual themes ….America had saved Europe’s “ass” twice before — and we would doubtless come bleating for help again when we inevitably sought rescue from the Muslim hordes imposing sharia law on London, Paris and Berlin. We can’t defend ourselves, of course, because we are limp-wristed “Euroweenies”, effeminate socialists whose own decline robs us of the right to say anything about the United States, which remains the greatest nation on earth. …….
One Bill07407 managed to capture the flavour of this virtual avalanche — including the curiously homoerotic undercurrent that runs through much rightwing American invective — with this effort: “If you want Comrade Obama we will gladly ship him over after he loses in a landslide. Meanwhile you can kiss my ass. I bet you would enjoy it faggot.” Equally reflective, this from bioguy777: “I love it! A pansy-ass limey Brit begs the US to do his bidding while his own country slips further towards total Islamic rule. We’re electing McCain, and the rest of the world can piss up a rope if they don’t like it. 1776, BITCH!(from the Guardian).

I am impressed by the sheer energy of this rhetoric. But a bit stung, on a patriotic basis. Surely, our own home-grown right wing nutters can’t achieve this level of ranting? This is a hard act to folllow. These comments manage to combine communism; homo-eroticism; islam and the bottom word. all . They are slightly lacking in the random-capitalisation and generous-use-of-exclamation-marks that normally distinguish such comments, but nobody’s perfect.

Bah, can the British product compete in this growing international market?

I was irresistibly drawn to the Daily Express by a front page I saw today which claimed that muslim fanatics were planning an attack on EastEnders (a British soap) I fought back the thought “Finally, a use for Al Qaeda.”

The Daily Express. Surely, if there’s a serious national challenge to foreign rabid-ranting supremacy, it must be in the Daily Express? The Express has a website. Imagine my delight to find it even has a Have Your Say page.

I would have to say the Express may be guilty of trying to juke the stats though. It may be trying to win an award from the twat-a-tron. It provides a list of questions that its readers might want to Have their Say about. These topics have obviously been cynically calculated to get comments by the shit-bucketload, applying a simple “Bull and red rag” principle.

More Have Your Say
•Should it be illegal to break manifesto promises?
•Is it time for Labour to stop bankrupting Britain?
•Is Brown to blame for credit crunch?
•Should ALL police forces get back to basics?
•Have you had enough of high taxes and poor services?
•Is Gordon Brown a laughing stock?
•Should Labour halt the war on motorists?
•Are we living in a Big Brother state?
•Should doomed Brown take the hint and quit?
•Is ‘nanny’ Brown just full of hot air?
•Are rubbish fines just a way of ripping us off?
•Have you been badly affected by the dismal property market?
• Will ex-soldiers bring discipline to our schools?
CLASSROOM yobs will be brought to heel by former soldiers trained as teachers, the Conservatives pledged last night.
• Should Ecstasy be downgraded from a Class A drug?
ECSTASY could be downgraded from a Class A drug despite a three-fold rise in the number of deaths.
• Does our benefits system reward scroungers?
TODAY The Daily Express reported that Brits are better off on benefits.
• Are you sick of the EU meddling in British affairs?
TODAY the Daily Express reported that British motorists will soon be forced into driving with their lights on in the daytime under a new EU edict.

Hah. I don’t even need to read the comments. The Express reporters might as well have written them at the same time they picked the topics. They know exactly what buttons to press to get that fear-filled little-England worldview spewed out to fill their empty webpages.

I spent a fair bit of time scanning the 99 “benefits scroungers” comments but you could tell their hearts weren’t in it (maybe with some secretly fearing they might end up in that category themselves, in a world recession, and are possibly suddenly realising that £60 a week would barely heat and light their homes, let alone feed them.)

Better entertainment from the “ex-soldiers” in schools thread. I become uncomfortably aware that not only do these people hate and fear children (no surprise) but they believe that Britain’s armed forces are staffed by the human equivalent of pitbull terriers, who, if ever let loose on schoolkids would terrorise and bully them into behaving. And they think this is a good thing.

Well, except for those who fear that gaining actual teaching skills would draw their psychopathic teeth.

The answer is no, how will they instill discipline,
they would not be alowed to punish the kids, they could not yell at them the same as a squadie, and off coarse they will need to go through collage or university to get thier teaching degrees or deplomas, by the time they have been through the system they will be just as PC as the present teachers, or will they go striaght into schools with out any degrees or deplomas, and we will have teaching on the cheap.

(How beautifully ironic that this educational expert has managed to come out of school without grasping the rudiments of spelling and punctuation.)

Or there are still some who feel that the troublesome rule of law will still hamstring the psychopaths.

IT WONT WORK
unless Cameron is going to get rid of the softly softly approach and the human rights loony lot , then this is a waste of time,

It’s probably too much to hope that these people can’t breed. In which case, no wonder that the UK has been told off again by the united nations for making its kids miserable.

It’s also something of a pretty serious insult to the British forces. These nutters somehow assume that any serving soldier is basically a thug, who has has been brutalised through training.:

Only if we get rid of the PC mongers and allow them to use the same discipline that army recruits face.

I don’t know anything about army training that I haven’t learned from watching Vietnam war films (Full Metal Jacket, etc) but I suspect they don’t either. It’s just that they misread the message about what happens when you brutalise young men into becoming disposable killers. They assumed it was a template, rather than a warning.

Quite by coincidence, I just saw the British National Party’s manifesto (I am buggered if I’m putting a link to that) and its central concerns seem to be the exact same “issues” that feature as topics on the Daily Express’s Have your Say. The BNP apparently plans to go after the Tories’ more rabid voters.

(Well, at least it would split the Tories’ vote, so I can see an upside. But generally, this shit just frames political debate in terms that are ever more rightwing. So, we see the Labour party fallling over itself to be tough on immigrants and scroungers.)

So, in your face, right-wing Yanks. Britain still has much more than its fair share of people after your own twisted hearts. (OK, the Brit ones don’t care about abortion and wouldn’t recognise a creationist theory if it bit them on the nose, and the American ones don’t seem to hate teenagers much, but they certainly seem to be brothers and sisters under the skin.)

All atheists aren’t bright

If you’re smugly thinking that your being a bit less stupid than the next person is evidenced by your lack of religious belief, I have some unwelcome news. Then again, if you think the idea of all atheists banding together in a broad unchurch of unbelief is silly, you may feel vindicated. (Snakes and ladders.)

There’s a blog on the Atheist Blogroll called Al-Kafir Akbar Its site in the lower reaches of the mental gene pool became evident in a climate-change-denial post. This post has already been elegantly and eloquently savaged by Black Sun Journal.

I was pretty struck by today’s post. Mohammed protector of infidels. I already suspect this story of the Swedish artist is rather more complex than it is being reported in the international media, although, with any more reports, it will indeed become yet another crazy international incident.

There is a bizarre capacity of small groups in the Islamic world to stir up mass hysteria over “insults” known at 15th hand, and only through the deliberate agency of rabble-rousing Islamic leaders. There is also an evil twin Western response, which assumes that the entire Muslim world is made up of demented fundamentalist fanatics.

Most atheist blogs are well able to oppose any flavour of fundamentalist nonsense without degenerating into mania.

But let me refer you to Al-Kafir Akbar’s blog again. This doesn’t fit into that camp of rational discourse. He says

.. those neurotic, thin-skinned cry-babies will be rioting again – peacefully, of course….. Al-Kafir akbar, ragheads! :)

I find this unpleasant. As I do the “Disprortionate Response” button. “Mr Akbar’s” “Islam & the War” blogroll includes Soldier of Fortune blog and Western Resistance.com that has the sort of posts that include one saying “Moderate Islam: a Reductio ad Absurdum.”

I am trying to see this as a cultural Europe versus USA thing and be more tolerant. But something about that “ragheads” word chills me. Despite sounding completely unlike “gooks”, it somehow sounds exactly the same.

Feelings about Islam in the US can go way beyond denouncing anti-humanist religiously-influenced practices. Many Americans and more and more Europeans go beyond reason into demonising Muslims en masse. The ultimate direction of this way of thinking is genocide.

Endless global war over access to dwindling resources. Justified on all sides by appeals to increasingly polarised beliefs in nonsense.. Which takes us back to the environmental threats topic again….

Yes, terrorism is vile and terrifying. (The clue’s in the name.) However, Europe has lived in the face of terrorism for decades, barely paddling in the ocean of craven fear, bigotry and database-driven authoritarianism that the world seems to be now diving into. In most cases, the way to stop terrorism is to find out what it’s really about and to deal with that.

(Look more closely at the Swedish artist Lars for a good-natured and good-humoured response to bigotry. He tried to buy the Egyptian cartoons that insult him.)

Quick history lesson, the mention of which will probably annoy the hell out of many US readers. Read Wikipedia on the Stern gang. The founders of the state of Israel got it by carrying out a terrorist campaign against the UK, who held Palestine as a “protectorate”. To this end, they even supported Germany in World War II.

(Stern) differentiated between ‘enemies of the Jewish people’ (e.g., the British) and ‘Jew haters’ (e.g. the Nazis), believing that the former needed to be defeated and the latter manipulated. To this end, he initiated contact with Nazi authorities, in order to enlist their aid in establishing a totalitarian state on Nazi lines., open to Jewish refugees from Nazism, in exchange for collaborating with Germany against the British Empire in the Second World War. (from Wikipedia.)

An object lesson in why you shouldn’t give into terrorism. At the same time, this shows you why terrorism presents an attractive option to people who can’t get what they want by normal methods.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Our Safe Nation

Well, it seems the UK tabloid press is continuing its efforts to make “middle England” terrified of shadows without any real basis. Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday has ensured that its readership have “evidence” that Britain is descending into anarchy and the police crime statistics (as well as the victim reported data in the British Crime Survey) is just nonsense.

In a nutshell, the article is about Ms Sarah Schaefer (senior adviser to Foreign Secretary David Miliband) who was “carjacked” in a posh London street last Tuesday. She was driving along the street, when a “thug” jumped out in front of her, forced her to stop and jumped in the passenger seat. Ms Schaefer fled the car and threw the keys away (obviously the car was more important to her than any mere prevention of harm). The unnamed “thug” found the keys, got in the car and fled with it (later crashing).

Now all in all, this is a reasonably traumatic experience and it is sad that Ms Schaefer underwent it. However as far as the Daily Mail is concerned this is proof that the UK is in a grip of unprecedented levels of crime – despite any claims to the contrary by the police or government. Very early in the (erm) article, the breathless “journalists” write:

The ordeal of Sarah Schaefer is a major setback to Labour’s rubbishing of Conservative claims that the rise in violent crime has led to “anarchy in the UK”.

I know I can be slow on the uptake but I don’t get this. How does ONE crime support the Conservative’s claims? Is there some mystic aura about Ms Schaefer which means she can only become the victim of crime when 75% of the population has been? She is one person. Nothing in the article gives any indication as to the true rates of this type of crime (check BCS if you are that bored) but it has this bit or terror inducement:

The attack on Ms Schaefer is a stark reminder that crimes such as carjacking, once associated only with ghettos in the US and South Africa, are now commonplace here – and can occur in neighbourhoods popular with the middle classes.

This is mind boggling. Carjacking is not commonplace on the mainland UK. For those unfortunate enough to live in Northern Ireland, however, carjacking is more common and has been for 2o years. The sad part is the Daily Mail (and its readership) would never want to let facts or statistics get in the way of a good bit of fear.

Just in case the (insane?) middle England readership of the Mail missed the point they were trying to be given, the article finishes with:

Ms Schaefer is just the latest highprofile person to fall victim to rising crime.

Muggers stole a mobile phone from Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan’s daughter Chloe, 19, while she was making a call in Notting Hill’s fashionable Portobello Road in March.

Chelsea and England footballer Frank Lampard’s £8million West London home was burgled in May 2005 as the star and his girlfriend Elen Rives slept upstairs.

And high-profile divorcee Beverley Charman, 54 – awarded a £48million payout – was tied up at her Kent home and robbed of jewellery worth £300,000 in March.

This is more of the odd way the media seem to blow the lives of the rich and famous out of all proportions. The claim that this is the result of “rising crime” is more than misleading, it has no basis in fact and it certainly is not supported by anything in the newspaper. There are thousands of “rich and famous” people who live in the UK. If you include “high profile” then we could have in the region of 100,000 people to consider. This newspaper article identifies FOUR who have been the victim of crime and seems to cover the period of May 2005 – Sep 2007.

This makes the rate of crime around 1.3 per 100,000 people per year – if this is “rising” how low was it in the past? If this is really representative of the nation (as the article seems to imply) then we have a crime rate of 871 crimes throughout the UK per year. Blimey. What a safe nation.

The only way I can see that this article tries to show “rising” crime is that there seems to have only been 1 high profile crime between May 2005 and March 2007, but since March this year there have been three. Even then it is farcical.

Sometimes I really do wonder what goes on in the minds of people who read this sort of drivel and believe it (check the comments out if you want a laugh). Most of the Mail readers I have met in real life actually hold to the ideas the paper puts forwards (much to my frustration), most are from fairly affluent backgrounds and most have never been the victim of any crime in their life. Despite this all talk about how “bad” things are, how children are unruly, how crime is out of control and how someone they know, knows some one who has been burgled. It almost makes me want to cry.

[tags]Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Rant, Society, Law, idiots, Idiocy, Bad Journalism, Crime, Rich People, Famous People, Crime Rates, British Crime Survey, Statistics, Bad Statistics, Carjacking, Sarah Schaefer, Anarchy, Britain, UK, Criminals[/tags]

Community Spirit on the wane?

For some reason, possibly temporary insanity, I ended up buying the Sunday Telegraph today (well actually the choice was Telegraph or News of the World…). As I suspected there are numerous examples of intemperate and illogical thought processes, all with the potential of providing this blog with millions of posts.

One of the things which has caught my eye early on is a page titled “The rise of can’t-be-bothered Britain” (available online). Basically, this is a piece on how since the fifties, community groups (Women’s Institute and the like) are losing out on membership. The thrust of the article seems to be trying to imply this is actually because people can not be bothered rather than anything else. Sadly, the article is riddled with poor historical analysis and some blinding leaps of illogic. Early on it sets the scene:

Seven out of 10 people questioned had no ties to groups or associations in their neighbourhoods. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the figure rose to eight out of 10. Lack of time, or a dearth of groups relevant to their needs, were given as the main reasons.

The findings reflect the decline of bodies such as churches, the Women’s Institute and the Scouts, and appear to show the rise of a generation that cannot be bothered.

The data seems reasonable enough, so I am not going to debate that. I do have to question the assumption that this means people “cannot be bothered” though. From what I have read in the article there is little to actually support that conclusion – other than an innate journalistic bias. Further on, it continues with this mixed bag:

Membership of the Scout Association has fallen by a third since the early 1990s, to stand at 450,000 last year, while a shortage of Girl Guides leaders has been blamed on the growing number of women who work.

Women’s Institute membership, now 215,000, has halved since the 1970s, and the Labour and Tory parties have fewer than 500,000 members between them, a tenth of the level in the Fifties. According to Christian Research, less than 7 per cent of the population now attend church regularly.

Now, the less than 7% is good :-) , but I admit the drop off in political activity may be a “bad thingâ„¢.” There is little doubt in my mind that the increasing number of women in work is affecting the Guides when it comes to trying to get leaders but “blame” seems a strange term. Using a term like blame (remember, a journalist wrote this – they are experts in choosing the correct word for their meaning), seems to be saying women should feel guilty for going to work and earning money, rather than giving up their time for free. I find that odd, and I doubt the Guide Association would have meant it in that manner. It gets better though:

Yet research into work patterns suggests that “lack of time” may be a convenient excuse, rather than a genuine reason not to get involved. The average working week lengthened from 35 hours in the Seventies to 39 hours in 1998, but has since shortened to about 37½ hours, Office for National Statistics figures show.

Welcome to the land of bad statistics. Now, I actually do normally work less than 37.5 hours so maybe I skew the data a little, but I suspect if you average it out over the year (to include the periods where I work 12 – 16 hours a day for a fortnight straight), it comes to 37.5hrs. Despite this, pretty much no one else I know (I am aware this is not really valid data, I am trying to make a point) works less than 37.5 hours. Most work more – either voluntary or to gain overtime pay. I suspect the ONS figures are somewhat skewed and don’t count things like overtime, but this is an argument for another day. I am fairly sure the ONS figures only talk about time which is “worked and paid for” – so the hour for lunch does not count.

The interesting point about it is, this is an attempt by the journalist to imply that as people only work an average of 2.5 hours a week more, they still should have loads of spare time.

In the paper edition, the article is accompanied by a picture of loads of women “mucking in” to clean a street for a Coronation street party (1953 IIRC). The picture shows over a dozen women (probably twice as many) scrubbing the stones and decorating. What wonderful times, when communities were real communities eh?

Sadly, if you check ONS data I very much doubt that the average woman in that community was working 35 hours per week. In the days when WI, Guides etc were at their strongest, few if any women worked in jobs outside the home. Now I am not saying housework is not hard graft (it is) but the women of yesteryear had 37.5 hours a week more to do house work and be involved in the community. Today, nearly every family I know has both partners working (more than 37.5 hours but…). This was not the case in the 1970s and certainly was not the case in the 1950s. If we look at a family with no kids: In the fifties, the husband would have worked about 50 hours a week, leaving (assuming 8hours sleep) 174 hours for the family to get involved in things. Travel to and from work was almost zero as most people lived within a few minutes walk of the work place.

Today, that family will include two people working 37.5 hours a week (remember, 5 hours a week will be unpaid lunchbreaks, so they are actually “in work” for 42.5 hours a week – often people will be in work longer as morning and afternoon breaks are not counted). Now again assuming 8 hours a person a day sleep, this means there is actually only 139 hours a week free. As the average commute today is 45 minutes each way, this takes another 15 hours a week off people. Before we look at any lifestyle changes or issues, a couple today has about 124 hours a week “free time.” This is 50 hours a week less than the halcyon days of yore, or more than a full working week. This doesn’t include things like collecting children from childminders, going to the gym (less manual work means more time spent in the gym!) and so on.

Strikes me as people do have less spare time than they used to. I think this is highlighted by the further commentary:

Working-class people and those living in the north of England were most likely to admit no involvement in any community group. In London and the south, rates were lifted by the popularity of residents’ associations and book groups.

Yeah, people who work for a living (and depend on things like overtime) have less spare time than the idle rich in London. Who would have thought it? (And I am also aware that in London some people work zillions of hours a week, it was a joke).

Looking at the picture in the paper, I cant help but feel the lack of “community” is much more complicated than saying people today can’t be bothered (even in the over 60′s membership is minimal, and they will have grown up with this sort of thing, and certainly have the spare time…). In the 50s people lived in council housing, the state cared for them and, as a result, they cared for the state. Today there is more and more pressure for the state to cut people free (especially from the Telegraph), yet there is amazement that people don’t still care about the state in the same manner.

Now that is what I find strange.

Racism on Big Brother

Loathe though I am to say anything about Big Brother, and I certainly don’t watch it, it has managed to force it’s way onto the nightly news as the “headline” item.

The crux as I see it, is that three or four of the morons Celebrity housemates have been racially abusing the Indian housemate. The news on now is talking about record number of complaints, questions asked at parlimentary question time and apparent outrage in India. (Read more on the BBC site)
Wow.

Madness.

This is undiluted madness. Yes, some of the retards in the house are racist. The clip the news has shown is (famous for little more than having an IQ on a par with a rotting tomato) hurling some abuse at Shilpa Shetty. Now, I am sure there are some people who live under a rock and I am sorry to have spoilt their impressions of the world, but there are racist people around. Most of them (sadly, not all) are the under-educated, low IQ denizens of high density housing estates. She fits this category perfectly and the only reason this embarrassment for the human race has ever come close to being a celebrity is because she has willingly demonstrated her idiocy on national television in the past.

One of the comments on the BBC amused me:

Housemates Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O’Meara have been seen making fun of Shetty’s accent.

Now anyone who has heard any of those three talk would be able to see the pure, unadulterated, irony in that alone.

Now this upset about racism, in itself, is not madness. If the programme offends you then don’t watch it. I doubt any one who is not already racist will be tempted to follow Ms Goody down that path because of the shining example she sets children. If anything from the bits the news has shown, the way Ms Shetty has handled the abuse is far more likely to work wonders in combating racism. The news clips have shown Ms Shetty in a very positive manner, she appears to always be calm, collected and rational – not to mention head and shoulders above her opponents in the intelligence stakes.

But, as with all things today, politicians are in on the act. As a result, common sense takes a little holiday and people start calling for madness. Throw in some Indian subcontinent rabble rousing and you get pictures of Indian protesters burning effigies (no idea what they are supposed to be of – they were all on fire).

The things which interest me are the demands that Channel 4 should have edited out the racism. Why? If Ms Shetty has to suffer it, why should her honourable behaviour be hidden from the audience? This would also have had the effect of masking the racist idiocy displayed by her detractors, meaning when it comes to the vote, the public would not be aware of how truly scum-like they are. Imagine the impact and opinion on Ms Shetty if, upon her release, she realised that this abuse had been hidden and one of her detractors was the winner! This is the problem with “reality TV” – it is sometimes too much reality for people. I suspect they only want the reality to be heavily sanitised where they only get the results of specially selected “zany” characters. Shame on the viewers.

More worrying are the politicians comments. Take this from the redoubtable Gordon Brown (as reported on the BBC site):

Mr Brown said that the issue had been raised repeatedly during his trip to the country, adding: “I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn.”

I am concerned about this. It is not just Mr Brown who talks like this but pretty much all of them on both sides of the house. The emphasis always seems to be the country should be seen as one which is fair and tolerant. This heads back to the cries for censoring the outbursts. This strikes me as just trying to sweep the problem under the carpet. Let people admit that there are racist idiots in the UK and we can investigate how to deal with them and educate them. If we hide it and keep up the pretence that Britain is all nice and fluffy the problem will never go away.

On a similar vein, there are calls to boycott Carphone Warehouse (sponsors) and the program and the channel etc. All this is because people are suddenly ashamed to have to admit to the scum in their midst. I say dont boycott Carphone Warhouse (I mean, it’s not as if they chose the contestants) but certainly exercise your right to choice when it comes to the failed celebrities. If anything, say thank you C4 / Endemol / Big Brother / Carphone Warehouse for making “us” aware that these three failures were as racist as they are.